Occupy Your Heart first, and your Mind will follow

I’ve been having a conversation with a friend about how to expand the Occupy movement, and my first thought is to accept that people’s interests and passions continually change. Perhaps it is better to have on an e-mail list fewer people who are sincerely interested, instead of more and more people who remain peripheral. I have to ask myself, in the context of the information overload which e-mail has become, which listserves are most aligned with my passion — today? I simply cannot absorb — it is beyond my human capacity — to be “on the ready” for every issue. I have to ask myself, where is the best use of my gifts and abilities?

Occupy Your Heart first, and your Mind will follow. Think with your heart. I believe that what’s missing from most social change efforts is the non-verbal connection between people that comes from the heart, and that’s why they eventually evaporate, or morph into some other transitory, trendy effort. If Occupy is ever to become a long-term sustainable and significant source of social change, it has to speak to people’s hearts. I’ve written an entire book about this, Love Always Wins.

We’ve been conditioned in this culture to think with our heads, and that has led to our primary core issue, of feeling alienated and isolated from each other. We no longer trust each other or the process of empathic dialogue. Everything is the other guy’s fault. Well, in a crisis situation such as we are facing today, I suppose this is to be expected, considering our history of naming and blaming. However, this is also our opportunity to transcend petty bickering and get on with making a world that works for everyone, including the 1%. I know that may be hard to swallow at first, and you may have instantly come to believe that I represent the 1%, and I don’t. I represent the 100%. We are all in this together, and if we don’t get the 1% to agree with what needs to be done, we will all go down together, including the 1%.

Think of it this way: what appeals to the hearts of congressmen and corporate executives more than the voices of children and middle-schoolers? They don’t have sophisticated arguments or ulterior motives, they have heart. They have simple passion. I now have a coach who is helping me to seek my own passion and to find it and draw it out from others. It’s a tricky business, in a way, running counter to my previous assumptions about how to build community. It has to be tricky and subversive in order to circumvent all the rational objections our culture has created to awareness of feelings. Love is poo-pooed as weak, which is an outright lie.

What would it take to create a solidarity with others based on love, on a large scale? That’s the question I want to ask. Here is my proposal, and I invite your feedback on it:

If you experience occasional isolation, despair, loss of hope, or burnout you could be supported by:

    • awareness of what’s working, succeeding, healing
    • awareness of personal passion and gifts
    • functional inclusion community
    • personal transformation of ability to respond to crisis
    • experience of heart connection
    • greater civic involvement

ReUnion Wisdom Circle:


    • Sharing personal stories about restoration, healing, recovery, and miracles of birthing that which wants to be born — personal stories of collaboration, forgiveness, compassion, joy, and gratitude — to speak into existence that passion which we serve.
    • Mutual encouragement and support, to “allow people around you to help you believe what you know” through personal testimony.


    • Weekly ReUnion gatherings
    • Each meeting will start with an appreciative inquiry question, such as:
      • Looking at your entire experience in this city, recall a time when you felt most alive, most involved or most excited about your involvement.
      • What is the meaning of collaboration to you? When have good things happened because you gave up the struggle for control?
      • Without being humble, tell us how your ability to listen has contributed to your collaboration with others.
      • Tell us about a time when compelling communication allowed you and another individual to really connect and to work exceptionally well together.
      • Describe a time when you did some meaningful community service. What was the high point of this experience?
      • Imagine that this city in 2016 has found that a miracle has happened. This city’s health and safety is ranked the best in the US. Compelling communication is now the only form of communication within the city. What is different? How did we get there? What did we do in 2012 to make this happen?
    • Rotation of the leadership role to select an appreciative inquiry question.
    • A traditional Wisdom Circle with a talking stick. No cross-talk, no gossip, “I” statements only, silent pauses between speakers.
    • Event is free and open. Tea and cookies gifted by group members.
    • Set the tone of the meeting with a Ceremony of Brotherhood: in partners, with left hand on partner’s shoulder, quietly repeat “Your heart is my heart” back and forth to each other, 1 minute; rotate to next partner, repeat 3 times; shift to repeating “You love me” 3 times, then close with “We are one,” 3 times.
    • Encourage self-selected Listening Partners for sharing between meetings about anything that needs healing or clearing.


  1. Dear David,
    Thanks for your thoughts. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity to connect and move Eugene towards a positive future. I’d love to join, but am trying to influence a positive future here in Bethlehem, Palestine–for the next couple of months at least. I think I will suggest using your: “Imagine this city…” piece here where “thinking out of the box” is being taught and hopefully possible–as the “box” here is pretty tight!
    Peace to All,
    Dianne Brause

  2. These are some incredible ideas, and I am going to share them. Creation of Brotherhood (and Sisterhood), coalition, working from the heart feels right. Someone said to me a couple of years ago that we have to ‘starve’ the other side that is working from a place of ego & greed and to do this requires a different paradigm. Struggling using the ‘tools of the master’ will only strengthen the divide, the binary that has already been created that many cannot imagine living without. The change has to start from within first, and you lay out some wonderful techniques.

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